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National COSH on Deaths at Amazon and Mayfield: Why were workers on the job during extreme weather?

Thursday, January 6, 2022
Press Contacts: 

Melissa Moriarty, 603.505.7135; melissa@nationalcosh.org

 

National COSH on Deaths at Amazon and Mayfield:

Why were workers on the job  during extreme weather? 

 

LOS ANGELES -- “We are grieving for all of those who lost their lives as a result of extreme weather events in the Midwest,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. “It’s another reminder of urgent action required, by all of us, to address the impact of human-induced climate change. Employers in particular have a legal -- and moral -- responsibility to address known safety hazards.”

Eight workers are known dead -- so far -- at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory in Mayfield in Kentucky. Six workers are known dead -- so far -- at an Amazon Warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

“Investigations into these workplace tragedies must include questions about why workers were on the job during extreme weather conditions,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “What kind of warning systems were in place? What processes do Amazon and Mayfield have in place for emergency preparedness and response?” 

In Illinois, an Amazon worker told Bloomberg News

“After these deaths, there is no way in hell I am relying on Amazon to keep me safe. If they institute the no cell phone policy, I am resigning.”

Amazon has been re-introducing a controversial corporate policy -- suspended during the pandemic -- which prevents workers from having personal cell phones during their warehouse shifts. 

At Amazon, these are sadly not the first deaths during extreme weather. A severe storm in Maryland in 2018 claimed the lives of two contract workers when an Amazon warehouse collapsed in Baltimore.

Amazon was cited as “Dirty Dozen” employer by National COSH in 2018 and again in 2019, due to failure by the company’s management to address repeated safety concerns, including fatalities at multiple facilities, a high incidence of suicides attempts, workers urinating in bottles because they were afraid to take breaks, and workers left without income or resources after on-the-job injuries. 

 

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit nationalcosh.org. Follow us at NationalCOSH on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on Twitter and @NationalCOSH on Instagram.